Should I study online or on campus?

Best education and learning quotes
Best education and learning quotes

Another huge dilemma to solve as a mature student starting university. So many questions and doubts to go through! After discussing which study mode is better for adults, you can find it here if interested: “Study full-time or part-time”, in this post we will try to answer another question: study online or on-campus?

There is a huge debate around this topic. If on the one hand the online learning industry is growing at an impressive rate, on the other hand the traditional way still attracts numerous students.

Regardless of what the different opinions are, both have their unique benefits. Thus, before rushing to a conclusion, it is worth going deeper into these two study methods.

If you had spent some time reading my blog (thank you!!), you would know by know that I prefer an analytical approach. Therefore, we will discuss in depth the major benefits when you study online or on campus.

Why you should study on campus

If you are considering going back to study as a mature student like I did, I assume it will most likely be your first higher education experience.

In any case, whether you are going to start University, or a professional course, studying on-campus comes with many benefits. Benefits of studying on campus include:

1. Experience

The biggest benefit in my opinion is the experience of going to University itself. When you are studying on campus, or simply wondering around there, you “breathe knowledge”.

Just imagine being physically present at your class, a lecture hall packed with students. On the other side, a professor sharing knowledge and interacting with the class. It inspires you!

You will pick up concepts more easily and remember them for a long time. If you have any questions or you are unsure about something, you can ask people around you or wait till the end of the class to ask the lecturer.

2. Feeling

It’s much easier to feel like a student, and to be motivated by the environment surrounding you. Think about going to study in the library or anywhere around the campus. Hundreds of other people in the same your situation, all studying in silence.

You will see people reading books while listening to music; others studying while eating; others completely focused on their work and so no.

It’s the whole environment that helps you. You are not alone and you will never be. Even spending some time around the campus, having a coffee or just chilling, makes you feel part of it.

3. Socialising

We are getting so used to social media that we are forgetting the importance of face to face interactions. It might seem obvious, but I want to stress the principle that socialising is much more efficient when you do it in person.

Therefore, finding a group of students with your same interests is much easier on-site. This will not only improve your University experience through “chit chats”, but also your overall studying through sharing notes and exchanging information. Moreover, you can make good friends and establish long-lasting relationships.

4. Networking

This is an incredibly important aspect that for some reason people often underestimate. Expanding your network is a key factor to increase your chances to find the job you want after university.

It’s really useful to start thinking about it during your studies already. There is a reason why you should do that, and why I listed this in the benefits of studying onsite.

Universities provide you with numerous opportunities in that regard. Just to name a few: webinars, conferences, guest lectures and career events with recruiters.

Attending those, asking questions, taking notes, meeting other people it’s all part of networking. You have to connect with them and make sure they notice you, so that they will remember you when you will apply for a role in their companies!

Why you should study online

There is no denying that studying online comes with many benefits as well. Moreover, due to the current situation, online courses have now become the first choice for many people.

However, it’s important to say that the distance learning sector was growing even before Covid. I have discussed pros & cons in detail in another article, you can find it here if interested: “Is an online Degree worth it in the UK?”. Benefits of studying online include:

1. Wider course selection

Studying online can increase drastically your course selection. You will have many more opportunities to study what you really like in detail.

What that means is that if Universities or other institutions in your areas do not offer the specific courses you are looking for, then you can find them online.

If you wanted to study those courses onsite, your only option would be to move to the city where they are available.

Therefore, studying online can help you find the most suited course for you. It avoids you enrolling in something that sounds similar to what you want to study only because it’s the only option close to you.

2. Time management

Studying online is a very flexible option that can help you manage your time efficiently, mostly if you are busy at work or at home.

In most cases, you will have access to a lot of study material right from the beginning. This means that you can study at your own pace and easily fit your study hours around your usual routine.

In order to guide you through that, you will probably be provided with a recommended study path to follow to meet your deadlines.

On the other hand, not having a slighter “fixed” study schedule will require you to be extremely self-disciplined and consistent.

3. Price

This is another aspect on online studying that is worth considering. This option is generally less expensive for two main reasons.

Firstly, the fixed costs for a University (or other institutions) to deliver courses online are much less than delivering them onsite.

Consequentially, it’s economically feasible for them to offer courses online at reasonable prices, sometimes even half the cost of onsite courses.

Secondly, studying remotely do not require you to commute, therefore saving on transportation costs but also on meals when staying long hours on campus.

Final considerations, study on-campus or online?

After having gone through some of the major benefits of both methods, you should now have a clearer view. As you have seen for both, study on-campus or online have their pros and cons that might suit you best accordingly. However, in my opinion, studying on-site (when possible) is the best option.

I believe the benefits of studying onsite offset the ones of studying online. It’s a life changing experience, you have to live it, and live it fully.

Higher education comes only once, and if you never do it you will miss on it. In that regard, the traditional way is undoubtedly the real experience.

Put it this way: studying on-site nowadays involves many elements of studying online as well, but that doesn’t work the other way around.

For example, most lectures are video recorded and made available soon after class. Thus, if you are sick or just not in the mood of attending class in person, you can watch it from home.

You attended class but didn’t pick up a concept? You can re-watch it online and analyse that part better. It is you that basically decide when to attend in person or when to study from home.

Just like remote working, this seems the way to go for the future as well. Again, I have made a list of study from home essentials, you might find it useful.

The traditional way nowadays offers the same online features, but also the life-changing experience discussed earlier.

You can “breath knowledge” around the campus, something you cannot do it online. So, to solve the dilemma of “study online or on-campus”, my suggestion is always onsite if possible.

“Surround yourself with people and things that inspire you. Learn everything you can.”Jameela Jamil